HLL Lifecare denies controversy over vaccine complex

March 9th, 2009 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, March 9 (IANS) HLL Lifecare Ltd, which is setting up an integrated vaccine complex (IVC) in Tamil Nadu’s Chengalpattu, has denied allegations that the central government closed down three state-run vaccine manufacturers last year to favour the IVC project.
M. Ayyappan, chairman and managing director of HLL Lifecare, formerly known as Hindustan Latex Ltd, said the controversy over the Rs.9-billion (Rs.900-crore) IVC was “needless”.

“This is not true at all. The three (companies) were closed down in 2008, while we had got the first project report for the IVC in 2004 and the green signal for it in 2006,” Ayyappan told IANS here.

HLL, manufacturer of contraceptives and various healthcare products, had signed a memorandum of understanding with engineering major NNE Pharmaplan Aug 21, 2008 to set up the IVC project that will make vaccines for the universal immunization programme and other new generation vaccines.

The complex, coming up over 100 acres in Chengalpattu near Chennai, is expected to be ready by 2012.

The project came under fire from Left parties, which raised questions on the government’s motive behind shutting down the state-run companies and setting up a new complex with private participation.

In January 2008, the central government had asked the Central Research Institute in Kasauli, Pasteur Institute of India, Coonoor and BCG Vaccine Laboratory to stop production of their vaccines for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles and childhood TB.

According to the government, the step was taken following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) sustained objections on the quality of vaccines.

However, the critics also said the closing down of the state-run companies was intended to help private vaccine manufactures.

Denying this, Ayyappan said the three companies were not major players in the industry and the existing vaccine manufacturers will not benefit much from their absence.

“This is also not true because the three companies together had just 15 percent in value terms in the vaccine market in the country,” he said.

“Of the three companies that closed down, two were more than a hundred years old and the other one more than 60 years old,” Ayyappan added.

He further reiterated that HLL was not just a condom manufacturing unit and there was nothing wrong if it stepped into vaccine manufacturing.

“Condom business makes up not even 50 percent of our overall business. We also manufacture blood bags and even neuro surgical products. The ongoing controversy is needless,” said Ayyappan.

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